Abbas ‘supports’ Egypt action on Gaza tunnels
Palestinian leader backs Egyptian measures to stop trafficking of people and arms between Gaza and Sinai, report says.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said he supported Egypt’s crackdown on tunnels linking the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip to the Sinai Peninsula to protect itself from fighters, according to a media report.
“We have supported all the precautionary measures taken by the Egyptian authorities to close the tunnels and stop the trafficking of arms and the passage of people between Gaza and the Sinai,” Abbas said in an interview with Egyptian magazine Al-Ahram Al-Arabi due to be published on Saturday, extracts of which were published by MENA news agency.
“We will continue to support any measure protecting Egypt from danger,” Abbas was quoted as saying.
Since the 2013 removal of President Mohamed Morsi from power by the Egyptian army, the country’s new authorities have accused Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood of conspiring with Hamas.
The Egyptian military has stepped up the destruction of tunnels from Gaza that it says are used by the Palestinian movement to smuggle arms, food and money.
The army says it has destroyed more than 1,600 such tunnels since Morsi was overthrown.
Egypt has also begun setting up a buffer zone along its border with the Gaza Strip, which will see hundreds of homes demolished, in order to prevent fighter infiltration and arms smuggling.
Hamas, the ruler of Gaza, and Abbas’s Fatah movement, which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, agreed on a national unity government earlier this year but reconciliation efforts have repeatedly hit stumbling blocks.
Cairo suspects Hamas fighters of helping fighters carry out attacks against Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula.
The atmosphere has been tense in the Palestinian territories after a senior official died in a confrontation with Israeli troops, and after the army sent reinforcements to the occupied West Bank.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Al Jazeera the Palestinian Authority was preparing to suspend security cooperation with Israel.